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Syrian army gains control of city in Qalamoun

The Syrian army has gained control over strategic city in the southern Syrian region of al-Qalamoun near the capital, Damascus, reports say.

The Syrian army reportedly took over the city of Assal al-Ward near the Lebanese border area in the mountainous region on Thursday.

Syrian forces also reportedly managed to kill dozens of militants, including members of the al-Nusra Front.

The victory comes after months of clashes between army forces and foreign-backed armed militants in the region.

Earlier this month, members of the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, announced that they were preparing to take part in a battle to clear the strategic region from militants.

Last month, residents of some areas in the al-Qalamoun region returned to their homes after it was cleared off from militants.

On April 15, Syrian forces drove out militants from the towns of Assal al-Ward, Housh Arab and Jab’adin, one day after government forces retook full control of the towns of Ma’loula and al-Sarkha.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting militants operating inside the country.

More than 220,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced so far due to the turmoil in the country.

The UN also says more than four million other Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by the escalating conflict.

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